This study provides data and analysis about the extent to which local news is fulfilling its democratic function in the UK, with the aim of informing future public policy in this area. Specifically, it examines the extent to which there has been a decline in the provision and plurality of local newspapers that may, it has been claimed, be leading to a democratic deficit at a local level.
Over the past decade, increasing numbers of academics, journalists and civil society organisations have raised concerns that a decline in the number of local newspapers and in the number of local journalists, coupled with a decrease in plurality of local news providers, is leading to a reduction of alternative news sources, a concentration of ownership, the closure of titles and less reporting of public affairs.
Using original research, this study calculates the total number of local newspapers in the UK, identifies who they are owned by, and delineates the areas they serve. It then maps local papers to Local Authority Districts (LADs) and constituencies across the country in order to show the extent to which different areas ares served by daily and weekly papers, and the level of news plurality at a local level.